When I’m asked what are the most critical areas in the automation of a process using Robotic Automation Processing or RPA technology, my counterparts usually expect I provide technical details about different activities or tips about the automation tools to use, like UiPath, Automation Anywhere or Blueprism.But to the surprise of many people, my answers are almost exclusively related to how the processes to automate have to be defined, which includes a business analysis of the process which to my mind represent the most challenging phase in the automation project.
What I’m saying is almost any RPA tool can scan an email inbox and download a file to a folder. But the definition of the rules to follow in order to identify the emails to process, confirm the documents to download and process, usually requires a significant effort since changes to manual processes are required.
For example: let’s image we want to process a document containing an invoice that’s sent as an attachment to an email sent by a vendor. We need to find a way to identify emails coming from a vendor and that are related to invoices. This can be done in different ways:
- Asking every vendor to include the phrase “documents attached” on the email Subject.
- Opening emails sent from email addresses related to vendors in our purchasing application.
- Opening all emails that include an attachment and validating if the attached document includes the word “Invoice”.
- Doing a cognitive analysis of the text in the email body to define if it’s related to an invoice.
- And several others...
Clearly all these options are possible (even the last one) but none of them seems to be 100% accurate or easy to implement. This means that the definition of the combination of rules that can guarantee a good result and a viable implementation cost is a very important activity to consider and something I believe it’s the most critical in an automation process.
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